Ramekin is thought to come from a Dutch word for "toast" or the German for "little cream."




Name

Ramekin

Variant

Ramequin, Ramekin dish.

Pronounced

(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin

Function

English Noun

Plural

Ramekins

Hypernym

A type of dish

Purpose

Cooking

Etymology

French Ramequin from Low German ramken, diminutive of cream, circa 1706. middle Dutch rammeken (cheese dish) dialect variant of rom (cream), similar to old English ream and German rahm. Ancient French cookbooks refer to ramekins as being garnished fried bread.


Meaning

1. A food mixture, (casserole) specifically a preparation of cheese, especially with breadcrumbs and/or eggs or unsweetened pastry baked on a mould or shell.

2. With a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 oz), it is a small fireproof glass or earthenware individual dish similar in size and shape to a cup, or mould used for cooking or baking and serving sweet or savoury foods.

3. Formerly the name given to toasted cheese; now tarts filled with cream cheese.

4. A young child usually between the ages of 3 months and 11 years exhibiting a compulsion to force or "ram" their head into various objects and structures.

These days, a ramekin is generally regarded as a small single serve heatproof serving bowl used in the preparation or serving of various food dishes, designed to be put into hot ovens and to withstand high temperatures. They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface. Ramekins have more lately been standardized to a size with a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 ounce) and are now used for serving a variety of sweet and savoury foods, both entrée and desert.

They are also an attractive addition to the table for serving nuts,dips and other snacks. Because they are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are usually sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Ramekins now are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. Please bear in mind that whatever you ask for them on Internet auction sites, someone is still getting the same thing in an op shop for peanuts.

However, there are hundreds of decorative ramekins that came in a variety of shapes and sizes. They came in countless colours and finishes and many were made by our leading artists and ceramicists. My collection has ramekins with One handle only, fixed to the body at one point only. If it has no handle, it is a bowl. If it has two, it is a casserole dish. But the glory day of the Australian Studio Art ramekin is well and truly over. See some here, ask questions or leave answers.

P.S. Remember, just as real men don't eat quiche, real ramekins don't have lids or two handles. Also remember, two handles makes it a casserole dish.

P.P.S. To all you cretins who advertise your ramekins by associating them with "Eames" or "Eames Era". Get your hand off it, you are not kidding anyone. The Eames people have told me that they never made ramekins.

P.P.P.s To all the illiterates out there in cyberspace, just as there is no "I" in team, there is no "G" in Ramekin. I am the Rameking, they are ramekins.

If you have a set of Grandma's ramekins at the back of a kitchen cupboard, have a look through the site, maybe you will identify them. Thank-you for looking.

There are many of you out there that have knowledge of Australian pottery. Please let me know if you have anything that I can add to the notes. It is important to get the information recorded. You probably know something that nobody else does.

Please note that while your comments are most welcome, any that contain a link to another site will no longer be published.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ray Cook / Raynham

The boxes these ramekins were sold in were printed “Hand Made Pottery designed by Guy Boyd”.

This post comes with a warning.  Some of what follows I have not been able to verify and I don’t want to be accused of being another purveyor of inaccuracies on the interweb.  The reason I have updated this is because Ray Cook is the most often accessed entry on my blog.  If I have got it wrong, please tell me, but since so little is available about him, here goes……….

If you have ever seen a ramekin in a second hand or opportunity shop, the chances are that it was by Ray Cook, or more accurately from the Ray Cook Pottery, although Ray was a businessman and never made a pot in his life.   He started a pottery at 938 North Road East Bentleigh Victoria in 1948 when the area was being opened up to post WWII couples producing the baby boom. They were one of Australia’s best known and highest selling pottery brands of the 1950s and 60s.  He must have made thousands of them. Ramekins that is, not babies.

Raynham Harry Cook was born on the 15th April 1902 in Bellett Street Camberwell, Victoria to Frederick James and Adeliza Cook.  Ray later lived at 24 Judd Street Camberwell.  He married Elizabeth Veronica (Pryke) b 1902.  The Cooks’ later moved to 218 Murrumbeena Road Carnegie.  Although the Electoral Rolls show him as a Clerk, he is listed as a Company Director when his father’s will was listed for probate.

Being too old for active service, on the 31st March 1942 he enlisted in 3 Batallion Volunteer Defence Corp.  He was discharged 21st August 1944.  This was a "Dad`s Army" of men who, while not allowed to go to war because of their age, provided Essential Services for the Government.  They were very serious in their endeavors to protect their families and the local area. They were part of the defence forces during WW 2, wore uniforms and trained in various aspects of warfare.

Ray Cook set up the Ray Cook Pottery in 1948 and later in 1950 set up Raynham Ceramic Pty Ltd.  Why did he set up as a limited company? Don’t think that there were two places.  It was done for good business reasons.  As a sole trader or as a non-limited business, his personal assets were at risk in the event of failure of the business, but this was not the case for a limited company.  As long as his business was operated legally, directors' or shareholders' personal assets were not at risk in the event of a winding up or receivership.  It is a common business practice.

The company was later named "Raynham" after his first name, and produced all sorts of lightweight slipware speckled and later lustreware vases. Being a typical accountant, everything was done on the cheap. The pottery wheel where the hand throwing was done was supposedly powered by the electric motor from a cement mixer. The building was allegedly not even equipped with a toilet. Not unusual for the times but Health and Safety people would not look kindly on it these days.

In the mid 1960s business was booming and Ray set up a second pottery at 237 East Boundary Road East Bentleigh, Victoria. He also operated another pottery in Carey Street East Bentleigh, sharing it with Guy Boyd who had returned from overseas.  In the late 1950s, Guy also had his works at Crosbie Park Avenue in East Bentleigh after his return from Sydney, Guy opened a retail outlet shop at 247 Bridge Road Richmond. In the mid 1960s Guy operated from the Ray Cook premises in Carey Street, East Bentleigh.  In 1965 Guy went into full-time sculpting and sold out to Ray.  All sorts of pottery was produced at Raynham, including vases, coffee sets and ramekins by the thousands.  In 1971, Ray was approaching 70 and sold his companies and the rights to the Guy Boyd ramekin designs to Bendigo Pottery.

Many Australian potters at one time worked at Ray Cook, such as Robert A. Schulze who graduated from RMIT in 1969 and, worked there in 1970 just before their sale to Bendigo; Bruce Anderson graduated with a Diploma of Art, (Sulpture), from the Prahran College of Technology in 1971. In 1972 and 1973   also worked at Raynham.

Paul Scholes' in his book on Bendigo Pottery says that their expansion program was set back after 1971 because most of the workers in the two factories were women, and the Australian government had, in 1972 passed equal pay legislation. With that and the lowering of import tariffs in 1973 and the subsequent flood of imports, (up 30% that year) the potteries suddenly weren’t quite so profitable.  Being an astute businessman, Ray had got out just in time.

Bendigo Pottery continued to use the "Raynham" brand for a short time. They made them to the same pattern but with different colours and a slightly wider base but without a signature.  The Ray Cook Pottery has been long demolished; the original site is now located next to the Ritz Ballroom.  Ray died on the 25th of September 1989 at age 87 and was cremated on the 29th at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery in Victoria.

15 comments:

  1. I'm pleased to have come across your site. Having collected so many Ray Cook ramekins and coffee cups it is good to know a bit of the history behind that potter. I have so many and my children think I'm crazy as I can't pass up collecting more. There is a beauty I see in them. Eventually I will need to shed my collection and I'm wondering if you know of any interested buyers.

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    1. Two and a bit years later....I'm back again Rameking! Was googling Ray Cook and found my comment. Thanks for your reply! What a thrill to read the families stories.

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  2. At the moment, the market is almost non-existent. Ray produced thousands of everything and that is why so much of his stuff is commonly found in op shops. I tried to sell a couple of sets of his coffee cups myself at auction recently with no bidders. The only option appears to be E-Bay but be prepared to only get peanuts. If it were me, I wouldn't care what the kids think. Just live long enough to be a burden to them, (although they will pick the nursing home.) In another twenty years they will be glad of your collection. Australian coffee sets are a great collection. One of my tricks is to give a set away as a house warming gift. People use them for all sorts of things and they have a story behind them.

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    1. I have just found a possible link to the name Raynham. On the website http://www.forcesreunited.org.uk/namearchive/units/RAFNames/RAF-West-Raynham.html a Ray Cook served between 1946-1948 in the RAF West Raynham. Was he English? Had he served in the RAF. Food for thought.
      Alannah

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  3. One of the problems of publishing this blog is the lack of information about people who made homewares. I think I know who Ray Cook was, but I will not publish until I am sure. Thanks for your contribution, but Ray was Australian and did nor serve in England. It is easy to put two and two together and come up with something other than four.

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  4. I found the exact same set as the top photograph in mint condition and abosolutley love them, love the history behind the studio. I paid a whopping $3.00 for them all. Jay

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  5. Thank you for your information regarding my grandfather Raynham Cook. Some of this I didn't know. I am glad to see that his pottery is still appreciated by some. I only have a few pieces myself, but they are the less common ones and I doubt I will part with them. BTW he did do some work himself and was a budding artist with quite a few paintings under his belt.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. One of the difficulties in publishing information on this blog has been finding anything on a lot of the makers. These days every mud plugger has an entry in specialist publications. In your grandfathers day, they just got on and made stuff that people could use. Try putting water in some of the vases made today and watch it run out as if it was coming out bullet holes in a cartoon character. I would like to know more about him because, as you are probably aware, his output is everywhere and this is the only place you can find out anything about him. Anything more you can add would be much appreciated.

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  6. Hi Rameking. I am Ray Cook's youngest of three sons (also one daughter). My daughter (who commented above) showed me this blog so I can add a few items. He was 44 when I was born, so I was quite young during much of his early business history - what I know is:
    1. Mother (Elizabeth) was born in 1909, not 1902, and died in 2002.
    2. Ray started his pottery business in 1946 in the garage in the back yard of 218 Murrumbeena Rd. He was stil working as a Customs Clerk while initially developing his pottery business. I do not recall whether he worked on his own or had any employees prior to opening the factory in North Rd in 1948.
    3. I recall one of his key employees being "Paddy" McDonald, who undertook the majority, if not all of the thrown pottery production throughout the 1950's and 1960's. I was fascinated watching him when I could (usually during summer school holidays when I could earn some pocket money filling and emptying the slip moulds).
    4. Ray was a pioneer in Australia of the electric pottery kiln, which was very novel in the 1940's.
    5. Ray's greatest attribute was probably his design skills. All Raynham pottery was his designs and he investigated, experimented and developed innovative glazing techniques and finishes, particularly later in the 1960's. Some of his most spectacular output showed very artistic use of such glazing techniques and designs.
    6. The key competitor to Raynham Ceramics in the early days was Lane Pottery.
    7. Later, many of his designs were closely copied and produced more cheaply by Japanese potteries.
    8. Ray travelled extensively, including to both Japan and Germany where he studied and observed techniques used for pottery production in those countries.
    9. Ray was also a pioneer in the "ham radio" community, being a very early member of the Wireless Institute of Australia (circa 1933?). He constructed and used his own short wave radio equipment.
    10. Another string to his bow was skill and knowledge of amateur film making. He was the "official" filmer of the very first Moomba celebration (not sure which year that was).
    Regards. Bob Cook

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    1. Hi, I found this site about Raynham Pottery and noticed your message. Your father is my first cousin once removed. My great grandmother was Lavinia Lay ,Adeliza 's sister. My mother always talks about Raynham Pottery and I remember seeing some of it when I was younger. I am currently doing the family history and would love to hear from you. I can be contactd on kangagrl@hotmail.com. regards Theresa

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  7. Thanks Bob, great to hear from you. The information is invaluable as there is so much of your fathers pottery around yet so little information about him or his factory. I just wish that others would respond to my other posts because the families are still out there.

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    1. Hi, I've collected Raynham vases for years (I stick to blue lustre to keep it under control), and it is just wonderful to come across this site, as I've often wondered about the history of Raynham. One curious thing I've noticed is that many of the Raynham items on ebay still have the paper foil stickers attached. I know that if I buy some sort of dish or vase new, the first thing I'd do is remove the sticker, so I'm not sure how so many Raynham pieces have survived with the paper sticker intact. Perhaps they've come from old shop or warehouse stock? Thanks again, Liz, Sunshine Coast

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  8. I recently bought a beautiful Raynham basket vase at a swap meet to give as a gift. On researching this particular maker I came across your site. On reading all your information about ramekins I looked in my cupboard only to find the set of 6 ramekins I have been using for years have Roy Cooks name imprinted on the bottom. If he did not make these himself why would there be his signiture. Also each ramekin seems to be signed different. I guess this could mean that his name was added because he owned the pattery factory. Thanks for all your information. Roslyn from Sydney

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  9. Thanks for the wonderful history of Raynham. I am currently researching Raynham for a university assignment and am finding it very difficult to find any information. Would you mind telling me where I could find more? I am particularly interested in the materials used. Do you know if they made Parianware at the factory? Thanks again Maree

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  10. You may be aware that this is the only real information about Raynham. Much is written about the wanky pseudo-colonial pottery that some people consider art, but There is precious little about those who made homewares. I have been told by one of Ray's sons that Ray made up his own glazes. Another source told me that Ray never made anything. The truth, as always probably lies in between. What little there is about Ray is in my post. Sorry I could not have been more help. If you do find out more, I would love to know.

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